Here are the 10 most powerful passports in Africa right now

Abu Mubarik January 11, 2021
Some of the world's passports. Pic credit: Bamba Experience

The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in lockdowns and travel restrictions. This has dramatically changed and shaped the way people travel by air, land or sea.

COVID-19 has also significantly impacted the power of passports of certain countries. Passport holders in such countries are being prevented from entering certain countries due to the spread of COVID-19 in their original countries.

Besides the pandemic, governance and political issues have also contributed to the decline of the power of passports in certain countries like the UK and the USA. A significant number of Americans are acquiring second passports, according to Forbes while in the UK, citizens are applying for second EU passports following the Brexit vote.

The Henley Passport Index, which ranks the world’s passports according to the countries their holders can visit without a prior visa, has released its latest report and analyses. Japan maintains the top spot as having the world’s most powerful passport while in Africa, South Africa tops the chart.

The ranking by Henley Passport Index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information.

The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. Updated quarterly, the Henley Passport Index is the most robust and reliable index of its kind.

Below are the 10 most powerful passports in Africa for 2021.

South Africa

South Africa’s passport on the index has been fluctuating. It debuted on the index ranking 37 in 2006 and now ranks 54 in the latest 2021 index. South African passport holders can visit 101 countries without a prior visa.


Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is ranked 62 on the index and second in Africa. Botswana passport holders can travel to 85 destinations without a prior visa.


Ranked 68, Namibia has the third most powerful passport in Africa. A former German colony, Namibian passport holders can visit 77 countries without a visa.


A landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa, Lesotho ranked fourth in Africa. Passport holders can visit 76 countries without a visa.


Formerly known as Swaziland, Eswatini is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south. Its passport holders can visit 74 countries visa-free.


Malawi is defined by its topography of highlands split by the Great Rift Valley and enormous Lake Malawi. Malawi is ranked 72 on the index and its passport holders can access 73 countries visa-free.


The power of Kenya’s passport has declined over the years. From ranking 52 in 2006, the East African nation is now ranked 73 while its passport holders can visit 72 countries without a prior visa.


Tanzania is an East African country known for its vast wilderness areas such as the plains of Serengeti National Park, a safari mecca populated by elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and Kilimanjaro National Park, Africa’s highest mountain. It ranked 74 on the index and holders of its passport can access 71 countries without a visa.


Tunisia is located in the North of Africa. It is ranked 74 on the index and its passport holders can visit 71 destinations without a prior visa.


Zambia is also ranked 74 on the index. The power of its passport has been fluctuating over the last decade. Zambia passport holders can access 71 countries without a visa.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 11, 2021


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